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By J. Castell»Hopkins. 

,,It has been the great mission of Canada to forge the chief 
links in that marvellous chain of union which is slowly but 
surely welding the interests and institutions of the British 
Empire into one harmonious whole. By the Confederation 
of its Provinces in 1867 the first impetus was given to the 
principle which now permeates the politics and fills the 

• aspirations of the people of Australia and South Africa, and 
which will yet dominate the institutions of Great Britain 
and control the constitution of the Empire. By the con- 
struction of the Canadian Pacific Railway it opened up vast 
territories to British settlement and cultivation ; created 
cities and towns which are now reaching out for trade with 
the distant east ; provided an Imperial highway for the 
transport of troops and munitions of war ; and completed 
commercially that unity of Canada which in a national sense 
had been consummated at Confederation. By the creation 
of a steamship line from Vancouver to Sydney, and the 
voting of a large subsidy which practically ensures the 
completion of a fast line of steamers between Canada and 
England, the Dominion has formed a substantial basis for 
the closer commercial relations which should in the future 
exist between the different sections of the Empire. 

Meantime the Mother-Country has not been idle, or in- 
different to these important though not always clearly 
understood movements. By the formation of the Irqperial 
Federation League in 1884, by the co-opefation in its work 

' of so many leading statesmen, and by the active labours 
of representative men such as Lord Rosebery^ the old Man- 
chester school of politicians and their opinions have been 

destroyed, and only the amusing gyrations of Mr. Labou- 

^ *^ "- Hf ^ 


Reprinted from they^/etia/ ifftd Asictfic Quarterly 


', October, 1894. 


\ A 

I I 

i 1 

2 Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

chere or the impotent waillngs of Mr. Goldwin Smith are 
left to mark the scene of its former activ(ities. By the 
Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886, the resources of 
the external Empire were revealed to millions of people at 
home, and an impetus given to that growing desire for 
better relations and clearer knowledge of the Colonies 
which soon found expression, through the keen foresight 
and patriotic vigour of the Prince of \ ^ales, in the founda- 
tion and completion of the Imperial Institute. And by the 
Colonial Conference held in London during 1887 the states- 
men of the Empire met in genuine consultation for the first 
time, paving the way, as Lord Salisbury prophetically ob- 
served, for many similar and greater gatherings in the future. 

Thus step by step the principle of union has. grown until 
its magnificent application in the present year has been 
rendered possible. For it must be remembered that even 
if no immediate practical result were to follow from the 
gathering — and that is a supposition which it is hardly 
necessary to discuss — the mere meeting of representative 
men, without any Imperi"l initiative, from British America, 
British Africa, and British Australasia, to discuss mutual 
interests and plight the troth of Empire anew, would be an 
event of sufficient import to mark it as an epoch in British 
history. But the terms and conditions under which the 
Conference was called show that if commercial lonsider^- 
tions were nominally paramount, yet Imperialisn had a 
great underlying influence. For years Canada while trying, 
without any great success, to arrange trade relations with 
Brazil and the West Indies, France, Spain, and the United 
States, has also meanwhile been developing the internal con- 
ditions to which the completion of the Canadian-Australasian 
Steamship Line drew sudden attention. 

Had it not been for the expansive projects of the 
Canadian Pacific and the success of Mr. Huddart's enter- 
prise, combined with the local depression in the Australian 
Colonies which made them willingly turn the ear to the 
Canadian charmer when speaking of commercial develop- 


Imperialism ri the Inter-Colonial Conference, 3 

meni and better relations, we might have had to wait a 
little longer for what has just taken place. But the 
Dominion Government is essentially British in policy and 
sentiment ; its leaders belong to a party which infinitely 
prefers Imperial trade to American and foreign commerce ; 
one of its '-hief supporters in this respect is Sir William 
Van-Home, whose great ability and energy of character 
have made him a power in national as well as railway 
circles ; and it was therefore to be expected that the railway, 
::anal, and steamship policy of the past fifteen years, ex- 
tending as it always did to the east and the west, would 
ultimately result in some effort at closer union with Australia 
and Britain. Such was the dream and the determination of 
Sir John Macdonald ; such we may hope will be its realiza- 
tion in part at least, under the Premiership of Sir John 

The way for the Hon. Mackenzie Bowell's official and 
.preliminary visit to Australia was paved by journeys 
through Canada on the part of Sir George Dibbs and the 
Hon. Edmund Barton of New South Wales and Sir T. 
Mcllwraith of Queensland. All these returned home each 
with a strong perception of the possibilities of greater trade 
and unity. On the 17th of September following, Mr. 
Bowell sailed for Australia in order to confer with the 
several Governments there with a view to the promotion 
of trade between the Colonies and Canada. His position 
as Minister of Trade and Commerce, and his intimate 
acquaintance with Canadian requirements made him an 
ideal diplomatist, which advantages a personal enthu- 
siasm in the mission served to further enhance. But — 
fortunately as we may now conclude — it was found im- 
possible to negotiate satisfactorily with so many distinct 
Colonies in the short time at his disposal, and arrange- 
ments were therefore made for the Conference which met 
at Ottawa on the 28th of June last, and to which South 
Africa and the Imperial Government joined in sending 

4 Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

The Delegates were as follows : — 

The Imperial Government, 
The Right Hon. the Earl of Jersey, p.c, g.c.m.g. 

The Hon. Mackenzie Bowell. r.c, Minister of Trade and 
Commerce ; the Hon. Sir Adolphe Caron, p.c, k.c.m.g., 
Postmaster-General; the Hon. Geo. E. Foster, p.c.l.l.d., 
Minister of Finance ; Sandford Fleming, Esq., c.m.g. 

New South Wales. 
The Hon. F. B. Suttor, m.l.a.. Minister of Public Instruc- 


The Hon. Nicholas Fitzgerald. 

Cape of Good Hope. 
Sir Henry De Villiers, k.c.m.g., Chief Justice ; Sir Charles 

Mills, K.C.M.G., C.B., Agent General m London; the 

Hon. Jan Hendrick Hofmeyr, m.l.a. 

South Australia. 
The Hon. Thomas Playford, Agent General in London. 

New Zealand. 
Alfred Lee-Smith, Esq. 

Sir Henry John Wrixon, k.c.m.g., q.c. ; the Hon. Nicholas 
Fitzgerald, m.l.c. ; the Hon. Simon Eraser, m.l.c. 

The Hon. A. J. Thynne, m.l.c.. Member of the Executive 

Council ; the Hon. William Forrest. 

The Delegates were men in every way fitted to deal 
with the issues which they met to discuss. Most of them 
were ministers or ex-ministers of their respective Colonies. 
Lord Jersey had distinguished himself as a popular and 
able Colonial Governor. Mr. Hoffmeyr is a Cape Colony 
leader whose name is known wherever South Africa is 
thought of, and Dutch loyalty to the British Crown appre- 
ciated. Mr. Sandford Fleming is the father of the cable 
scheme, and the engineer to whom the Canadian Pacific 
Railway owed so much in its constructive stages : their 

Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 5 

very names were a guarantee of the importance of the 

After a formal opening ceremony in the Senate Chamber, 
distinguished by welcoming speeches of great eloquence 
from Lord Aberdeen as Governor-General and Sir John 
Thompson as Premier, the Conference settled down to 
business, first passing an address to the Queen in which 
assurances were given of earnest loyalty, and of the desire 
of those charged with administering affairs in the Colonies 
to vie with Her Majesty's Imperial advisers " in upholding 
the ancient monarchy under which it is our happiness to 
live and in doing our part to hand down, unimpaired, to 
later generations, this great symbol of our union and our 
strength," It was decided not to admit the press, because 
of the danger of discursiveness which might follow ; and 
arrangements were made for voting by Colonies. 

The Presidential address was then delivered. In it Mr. 
Bowell went over much preliminary ground, describing, in 
brief, the origin and purpose of the Conference as being an 
extension of trade between the Colonies by the removal of 
impediments and the improvement of facilities. Abstract 
questions, political arrangements and defence considerations 
— except indirectly — were beyond its domain. He referred 
at length to the difficulties which were thrown in the way of 
closer trade relations by the unfortunate British treaties 
with Belgium and the German Zollveiein, under the terms 
of which those countries would have to be admitted to any 
fiscal privileges whir;h one Colony might give to anoth-^r. 
Later it was found that the Constitutions granted to the 
Australasian Colonies absolutely forbade discrimination in 
favour of any external country, whether British or foreign. 
Mr. Bowell quoted the address to the Queen which unani- 
mously passed the Canadian Parliament in 1892 asking for 
relief from these restrictions, and after giving the total trade 
of the British Empire as ^426,300,112 — exclusive of Great 
Britain — concluded that " a judicious adjustment of tariffs " 
might divert the great share of this commerce which was 

6 Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

done with foreign countries, into British channels. He 
believed that this object could be attained by each Colony 
retaining perfect autonomy as regards its tariff rates, whether 
on a basis of free trade or protection, with the one and sole 
restriction, that on all articles on which duties are charged, 
uniform preferential rates on direct importations shall be 
accorded to all members of a Confederation to be founded 
for that purpose, and to the Mother-Country, as against 
the rest of the world. 

As the first step in this policy all treaties should be 
abrogated which in any way opposed its consummation. 
Further steps suggested were the appointment of a joint 
commission to insure uniformity of practice in the assess- 
ment of duties and the classifications for statistical purposes ; 
a uniform statistical period ; an interchange of blue-books 
and commercial literature ; a general copyright system ; 
Inter- British cable connection; and steamship subsidies in 
given directions. The first motion passed by the Con- 
ference was moved, on the day following Mr. Bo well's 
speech, by Sir Henry Wrixon and seconded by Mr. Thynne. 
It read as follows, and cr^used a most diversified discussion, 
but was finally carried unanimously : 

" That provision should be made by Imperial legislation 
enabling the Dependencies of the Empire to enter into 
agreements of Commercial reciprocity, including the power 
of making differential tariffs with Great Britain or with one 

Sir Henry Wrixon in his speech showed how completely 
the Colonies now had their hands tied in making mutual 
arrangements, though under the beneficial treaty-making 
system which Canada enjoyed she could, with the co-opera- 
tion of the British ministry and the subsequent approval of 
the Imperial Parliament, practically arrange her own treaties 
with foreign powers. The same right was desired by all 
the Colonies in dealing with each other. The Australian 
Colonies could, for instance — under Federation — discrimi- 
nate in favour of each other, but not in favour of external 

Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 7 

Colonies. Sir Henry de Villiers pointed out that in South 
Africa, the Colonies have been given the right to enter into 
a Customs' union among themselves or with other States in 
their vicinity, but that the relationship was limited to South 
Africa and the duties levied could apply only to goods im- 
ported over-land and not to those imported by sea. Mr. 
Fraser of Victoria looked forward to the day when all the 
Colonies would have one Customs' tariff. 

Just here ensued a somewhat prolonged discussion of the 
treaty with France recently ratified by the Dominion Par- 
liament. Mr. Playford expressed the belief that a preference 
was being given to French wines over those of Australia 
and South Africa. This brought a prompt denial from the 
Canadian Minister of Finance, who also stated that " we 
would not bind ourselves not to allow other wines to come 
in at the same rate." The question, however, of whether 
the treaty would prevent discrimination in favour of those 
Colonies and against France, continued to trouble the 
delegates until, on the following day, Mr. Foster categori- 
cally declared that it would not, basing his assertion upon 
the fact that the treaty only bound Canada not to admit the 
products of any " third power " at a lower rate — the word 
" power" in his opinion meaning a foreign country and not 
a Colony. It is of course likely that France will objeci: to 
this interpretation, if it is ever put in practical operation ; 
but there is no doubt that Mr. Foster is right in looking 
upon the British Empire as a unit in foreign negotiations, 
although the principle of including or excluding Colonies 
from treaties at their owu sweet will, may logically some- 
what mar his position. Apparently, too, Con. da, has been 
very nearly doing what she is earnestly asking England to 
undo — tying her own hands as regards the making of inter- 
imperial arrangements along certain lines. 

Mr. Foster, in moving the resolutions that devolved on him, 
made an eloquent appeal for preferential trade relations and 
the formation of an Inter-colonial Trade Union. Great 
Britain was not yet prepared for the placing of duties upon 

8 Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

any foreign products in return for a preference in Colonial 
markets ; but he believed the time would come. Mean- 
while they should unite among themselves and build up an 
Imperial trade upon a basis of Imperial favour. Future 
growth and development in the external empire would 
inevitably bring the Mother-Country into the trade arrange- 
ment, ensure the safety of her food supply, and enhance to 
an enormous extent production in the Colonies and their 
demand for British goods. Mr. Fitzgerald objected that 
the Victorian Parliament would never consent to any 
arrangement which would place British goods on a worse 
footing than those of any other part of the Empire. " With- 
out Great Britain being included, I see no chance of getting 
its consent to any modification." Mr. Thynne, however, 
promptly pointed out that to await the favourable action of 
the Mother-Country in trade discrimination would postpone 
the matter indefinitely, whilst Mr. Foster spoke of the 
Canadian Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 with the United 
States, in which a number of American goods were 
admitted free without injury to Great Britain which did not 
export any of them. Even a suspicion of difficulty was 
averted, however, by an Act admitting them free from 
England also. Ultimately, and after some days' discussion, 
Mr. Foster's resolutions were adopted on division, as 
follows : — 

"Whereas: The stability and progress of the British 
Empire can be best assured by drawing continually closer 
the bands that unite the Colonies with the Mother-Country,, 
and by the continuous growth of a practical sympathy and 
co-operation in all that pertains to the common welfare ; 

" And whereas : This co-operation and unity can in no 
way be more effectually promoted than by the cultivation 
and extension of the mutual and profitable interchange of 
their products ; 

" Therefore resolved : That this Conference records its 
belief in the advisability of a Customs' arrangement between 
Great Britain and her Colonies by which trade within the 

Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 9 

Empire may be placed on a more favourable footing than 
that which is carried on with foreign countries ; 

" Further resolved : That until the Mother-Country can 
see her way to enter into a Customs* arrangement with her 
Colonies, it is desirable that, when empowered so to do, 
the Colonies of Great Britain, or such of them as may be 
disposed to accede to this view, take steps to place each 
other's products, in whole or in part, on a more favoured 
Customs' basis than is accorded to the like products of 
foreign countries ; 

" Further resolved : That for the purpose of this resolu- 
tion the South African Customs' Union be considered as 
part of the territory capable of being brought within the 
scope of the contemplated trade arrangements." 

Messrs. Thynne, Lee-Smith and Suttor spoke strongly 
against asking England to change her free-trade policy, 
believing the idea to be at present impracticable, and the 
vote by Colonies stood as follows : 

Yeas. — Canada, Tasmania, Cape of Good Hope, South Australia, 
Victoria — 5. 
Noes. — New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland — 3. 

It may be safely said, however, that the delegates did not 
altogether represent their respective Colonies in this vote. 
No one disputes Sir Thomas Mcllwraith's being a repre- 
sentative Queensland statesman and his advocacy of pre- 
ferential trade has been far more forcible than Mr. Thynne's 
vote will perhaps prove to be against it. Mr. Lee-Smith 
is a merchant and pronounced free-trader, who can hardly 
in this case prove in touch with the large protectionist party 
in New Zealand. However that may be, all the delegates 
were so devoted to the general idea of closer trade relations 
that it is not likely that theoretical considerations will 
prevail against their desire to carry out successfully the 
general aim of the Conference. 

The Cable proposals came in for long and serious con- 
sideration. A resolution was moved by the Hon. Mr. 
Suttor, and a most exhaustive paper was read by Mr. Sand- 

lo Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

ford Fleming. The former referred to the inception of the 
scheme in a definite shape through the resolution passed at 
the Colonial Conference of 1887, and to the delays which 
had followed in connection with the promised Imperial 
survey. The survey, he thought, would cost ;^36,ooo, and 
the total work about ;^2,ooo,ooo. He favoured a Company 
undertaking the enterprise with a joint Government 
guarantee against loss. Mr. Playford spoke of the Conti- 
nental telegraph, 2,000 miles long, which South Australia 
had constructed, the trade of which would be most injuri- 
ously affected by the new cable. But, he added, in words 
which deserve to be remembered as embodying the most 
practical form of Imperial patriotism : "My Government 
wishes me to inform this Conference, that if this cable is 
required for Imperial and for public purposes, for the good 
of the Empire, South Australia is mt going to stand in the 
way, and will support the cable." 

Speaking on behalf of Queensland, Mr. Thynne estimated 
the cost at ;^ i ,800,000 and thought that " it would be worth 
the while of the Australasian Colonies alone to bear the 
cost, if they could be sure of the cable being served for a 
week after a declaration of war by or against England.'' 
He denounced the " grasping monopoly " of the Eastern 
Extension Telegraph Company. Sir Henry Wrixon was 
fully as patriotic as the two previous speakers. " What we 
are really anxious about is the Imperial and national point 
of view," he declared. He favoured England contributing 
one-third, Canada one-third, and Australasia one-third, of 
the cost. Mr. Bowell said he disagreed entirely with the 
fears expressed by some as to the difficulties of the under- 
taking. He " had often heard it stated that the Canadian 
Pacific Railway would not pay for the grease on its wheels. 
The other day it had declared a dividend of 5 per cent., 
with a large reserve." Sir Charles Mills urged that the 
cable should be ultimately extended to South Africa and 
spoke of the strategic and commercial reasons which 
strongly pointed to the desirability of doing so. Two 
motions regarding it passed unanimously. 

Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 1 1 

This practically closed the Conference. A despatch had 
been received from Lord Rosebery speaking of the event 
as "a happy augury for the future of the Empire" ; and 
banquets, with innumerable speeches and enthusiastic 
welcomes, were yet to follow at Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal 
and Quebec. But the business ended with this resolution : 
and not long after, the Conference adjourned with a vote of 
thanks to Lord Jersey, who had filled his position of 
Imperial spokesman with tact and ability. There is no 
doubt that the occasional pointed questions asked, and the 
observations made by him were of considerable practical 
value ; and whatever the immediate fate of the resolutions 
and opinions thus given to the Empire and the world may 
be, there can be no two opinions as to the ultimate import- 
ance of the gathering. It has set in motion a principle which 
will change the entire Imperial system, arrest the currents 
of separation which were arising in some quarters, and 
direct men's thoughts more and more towards Imperial 
Unity and co-operation, in trade, in defence, and in legisla- 
tion. And out of thought comes action. 

The proposed cable is now only a matter of a few years. 
It was left to the action of Canada ; and the first steps have 
already been taken. The advantages will be very great to 
all concerned. The heavy charges rendered necessary at 
present by the circuitous route and frequent repetition of 
messages make the present line of little use to business 
men on opposite sides of the Pacific, and ruinously handicap 
its young mercantile marine and the successful development 
of commerce. Mr. Sandford Fleming estimates the rate 
over the new cable at 2s. a word and claims that it would 
reduce charges between Australia and England from 4s, gd. 
to 3s. 3d. He believes the earnings of the Pacific line in 
ten years, upon that basis, would at the very lowest figures 
amount to ;^ 153,000. His e_timate of cost depends upon 
the route chosen and runs from ^1,610,000 to ^1,978,000. 
So much for an enterprise which will give the Empire an 
all-British cable and lelegraphic communication between 
London, Australia, and ultimately Cape-Town. 

I . I 

12 Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

Commercial development of some sort is almost certain 
to follow the Conference. Great Britain may not move at 
once in giving the desired opening for preferential trade ; 
but local industrial interests may be depended upon to 
make the start. It is obvious that what the United States 
have done in this connection, Canada can also do. The 
following table shows how their trade has developed, mainly 
through having a line of steamers, much inferior to those 
which the Dominion has put on the route, and despite 
having a tropical region within their own borders which 
produces very similar articles to those grown in Australia : 


U.S. Imports 
from Australasia. 

U.S. Exports 
to Australasia. 



















And the great bulk of this trade is in products which 
Canada excels in manufacturing, and in imports of a kind 
which Canada now obtains largely from the United States. 
The Republic exports considerable quantities of agricultural 
implements, carriages, chemicals, fish, manufactures of iron, 
steel, leather and paper, petroleum, and manufactured 
tobacco and wood. Yet, although the Dominion can 
compete in nearly all of these products, it only sends 
Australia from $300,000 to $500,000 worth a year. Hence 
the very evident opening for a substantial interchange. 
During an informal discussion at the Conference, Mr. 
Sutter enumerated as the articles which Australia could 
sell to Canada : wool which is produced in immense 
quantities, frozen beef and mutton, which can be got in 
Sydney for 2 cents a pound and co ts 1 2 cents in British 
Columbia, canned meats, raw hides c.nd skins, hard woods 
for railway ties and street paving, fruits such as lemons, 
oranges and mandarins, and sugar. Amongst the things 
which could be taken from Canada would be paper, which 


Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 13 

is not made in Australia, cotton goods and frozen and 
canned salmon. Mr. Lee-Smith stated that the Massey- 
Harris Co. of Toronto have already shipped 4,000 cultivators 
to New Zealand. That colony could send woollen goods, 
superior gum and flax, and rabbit skins, and would purchase 
frozen salmon, hops and paper. Other articles mentioned 
by delegates were rough timber, matches, and petroleum, 
all of which could be obtained from the Dominion, Sir 
Henry de Villiers said that the Cape could offer wool, 
diamonds, wine and fruit, and would take lumber in large 
quantities, together with agricultural implements and paper. 

To all those, therefore, who look at practical considera- 
tions alone the result of the gathering will probably be 
thought satisfactory. But to all who feel the pulse of 
Empire and realize something of the mission and place of 
British countries in the world, the success of the Conference 
will hardly be measured by the possible exchange of miscel- 
ianeous merchandise, in greater or less quantities. This is 
a most important matter ; but the great central idea is that 
co-operation has now become an Imperial principle, and 
that loyalty to the Crown is becoming crystallised into 
practice. When the Hon. T. B. Suttor declared^ at the 
great banquet in Toronto, that " he felt sure that they in 
Canada as well as the Australians and the Cape Colonists 
would be always ready to fight to the very last man for the 
Empire," he illustrated a sentiment which is steadily grow- 
ing. When Sir Henry De Villiers spoke at Montreal of 
the loyalty of the Dutch at the Cape of Good Hope his 
words were proven by the presence and the well-known 
views of Mr. Jan Hendrik Hoffmayr, whilst his reference 
to the calumnies spread abroad concerning the loyalty of 
the French-Canadians was fittingly responded to by the 
Hon. J. A. Chapleau's description of himself as "a French- 
Canadian Governor and a life-long Britisher." 

To Canadians the eloquent speech of Mr. Chapleau is a 
proverb, but it must have come as a revelation to the 
visitors. He is in this connection the legitimate successor 

14 Imperialism at the Inter-Colonial Conference. 

of Sir George Cartier, who proclaimed himself "an 
Englishman speaking French," and of Sir E. P. Tachd 
who declared that "the last shot fired in North America 
in defence of the Union Jack would be by a French- 
Canadian." At the Quebec banquet to the delegates, Mr. 
Chapleau — who is Governor of the Province — welcomed 
them " in their mission of peace and British fraternity ;" 
and he continued in words well worth remembering : 

"Sir, the lofty tree of the Britisn Empire bears on its 
limbs, courage, intelligence, power, public spirit and philan- 
th: opy, industry and wealth, all the productions of human 
skill and genius. And above all it bears union and peace, 
union of mind and peace of conscience. Kneeling beneath 
that admirable structure we should thank Providence for 
the great gift we have received." 

With these words echoing in their minds the representa- 
tives of many States of a vast Empire .finally dispersed. 
Their mission had been a noble one ; the occasion, a anique 
and historic event ; the visit to the Dominion, a pleasant, 
and, it may well be hoped, a profitable trip. The end is 
not yet ; and as the Ottawa Conference recedes into the 
dim distance and is succeeded by other and seemingly 
greater gatherings, its importance may be somewhat over- 
shadowed and its deliberations partly forgotten by the 
great mass of an Imperial people. But it is safe to say 
that history will do it justice ; and that down through all 
" the ringing grooves of change " it will be carried as the 
first public political plank in the re-construction of the 
British Empire, and the practical commencement of an 
Imperial Federation whose greatness and destiny no man 
can measure. 

Toronto, August 15, 1894.